Archive for October, 2014

Puffball Mushroom

A photo essay of an 8-inch puffball mushroom in our backyard.

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I do wonder what caused its shape.

Puttyroot Orchid

Three days of dreary inclement weather called for a loop drive through the country. I parked on the road to the trail head at Stoneface, a popular spot on the Shawnee National Forest.

A light rain fell as the temperature gradually dropped.

I decided to walk a short distance, just to be out.


These puttyroot orchid seed capsules actually stood out among the colors of fall.

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They were in the process of drying.

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Puttyroot orchids (Aplectrum Hymale) send up a single leaf in the fall. This one has c0nsiderable growth yet to go. (Today is October 11).

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A smaller leaf, on the opposite side of the seedstalk, was of another plant.


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This is how the leaves look through the winter. There is a single leaf for each plant.

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Dried seed stalks are easy to find in the winter,

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and the flowers bloom later in May.

Our Pink Yard

Fall is definitely arriving — shorter days, cooler days, colder nights, birds migrating, leaves changing colors, flowers wilting, fewer bugs … and we now have a pink yard.

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A small smartweed (Polygonum sp.) blankets large areas of our yard.


The small plants average only two  to nine inches tall.

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Actually, they’re taller than they look; their spindly stalk doesn’t support their lengthy weight.

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The weather forecast still calls for several more cloudy days with rain and/or storms possible.

I plan to continue enjoying the pink yard. It brings a grin or giggle whenever I look out over it.

Cloudless Sulphur


Cloudless sulphur butterflies (Phoebis sennae eubule) usually arrive in southern Illinois later in the summer.


Red flowers, like this red salvia, attract their attention. They prefer tubed flowers, and lay their eggs on members of  pea family.


Their wingspan ranges from 2 1/4 to 3 1/8 inches.


 They migrate back south in the fall.

After the Fog Rises

A recent heavy fog didn’t start lifting until 8:30 or so.


For some reason I decided to make a loop around the yard.


Dew-covered webs were scattered around the yard. They varied in size more than the picture shows.

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A sheet web hung/laid in a honeysuckle tangle.

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The spider stayed in the leafy tangle above, waiting to pounce when something got caught in the web.

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The maker of bowl-shaped web didn’t show itself.


The weaver of this one didn’t either.


I wondered if the spider in the mouth of this funnel-shaped web knew it was in plain sight?


Another funnel web at ground level.


So many of these small webs were scattered all over in the yard. I photographed many of them, thinking the tiny red things were prey. They were so tiny. Finally I got a good enough look at one to realize it was a spider.


This web is similar to the one above. The picture was taken from a different angle.


This web won the prize for the prettiest with the pink smartweed flowers below.


The black in the hole is the spider.


The resident of this large orb web didn’t show itself.

Surprise Mushrooms

I was meandering around the back-back of our backyard, and


almost stepped on these mushrooms.


   They blended in with the grass much more than it looks in the pictures.


  Ash tree boletes (Moletinellus meruleoides)

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grow in the summer and fall near ash trees.

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Their stem grows off center of the mushroom, and the pores are angular.

Know For Sure

What I know for sure ….


it’s a small dragonfly

with a red abdomen,

powder blue head and underside thorax, and clear wings.

It patiently posed for a seven pictures.

(It’s small size made it almost impossible for the camera to focus.)

And, as of now, I haven’t been able to identify it online or in books.

Name or not, I still enjoyed the encounter.

The picture was taken on September 9.



Turned out two blogs I follow both blogged this dragonfly — a blue-face meadowhawk (Sympetrum ambiguum). The dragonfly wasn’t in one dragonfly book I have. The positioning of a pair of them in my other dragonfly book didn’t look enough like it for me to make the connection.

So, now I feel much better — I have a name for it!

A Barn Spider

Buffy and I were walking around the yard early one morning,

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and there hung a barn spider feeding on a katydid that had gotten tangled in the web last night.

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I omitted the picture of the area where the spider was eating.

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Barn spiders are nocturnal and rebuild their web nightly. They hide during the day, and sit in the center of their web at night when hunting.

A Flutterby


I think this was a Delaware skipper.


It posed for the first picture on the sedum


and decided to “lift off” for the second one.

White-marked Tussock Moth

 My exercise walks around the yard usually turn into a slow pace for studying nature.

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This morning the caterpillar of a white-marked tussock moth (Orgyia leucostigma) just happened to be at just the right height for observing.

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Obviously, it’s one of the easier caterpillars to identify.

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The white-marked tussock moths’s range covers from Canada to Florida and Texas. They feed on a lengthy list of trees,

The moth is a nondescript brown with faint markings.